Standing Out From the Cloud With Flight Info Direct: Q&A With Ross Paterson

Flight Info Direct is a highly configurable aviation data platform - powered by Snowflake providing customers with instant access to OAG’s data. With Flight Info Direct, customers plug directly into OAG’s data warehouse, then access, query, and analyze flight data sets, automatically integrating feeds into existing systems and APIs.

Now, we speak to Ross Paterson, OAG’s Senior Product Director, about the speed of change, legacy data, customer adoption and the tech enablement making the solution stand out. Here's what he had to say about Flight Info Direct.

Q: What are some of the challenges our customers are encountering?

Many of our customers have been developing their internal systems and accelerating their cloud transformation projects and need more dynamic data. Receiving files via FTP didn’t complement these changes, and they needed a delivery platform that aligned with new products and services, adapted for speed and scalability. 

Often, in these cases, our customers tell us that they're looking for a solution that's able to blend data, save them time in manual efforts and offer real-time market reaction opportunities. We also recognised that, with data kept in different environments, customers were spending a considerable amount of time on manual checking and processing - both increasing their costs and limiting innovation.

Q: What makes Flight Info Direct distinctive?

Ahead of the release of Direct, we sought to create a stand-out solution that could offer users a modern, cloud-agnostic solution that meets the needs of growing tech demands Direct provides high-level customisation, allowing them to define their own parameters and see just the data that matters. It is a single environment, with access to all our datasets in one place, alongside their own, reducing time previously spent across platforms. Direct gives users the opportunity to build more robust data pipelines, with automation that feeds into their own products and services. Plus, it has simple and speedy integration, becoming operational as quickly as possible (typically in under 48h).

The Snowflake Data Cloud is built to scale, which means it can handle large volumes of data and adapt as we add more. Our customers also want industry-leading security when accessing our data. By accessing OAG data in the Snowflake cloud as their single source of truth, these goals are achieved. 

Building pipelines using OAG data via Snowflake is straightforward. And with the Snowflake UI, users from other areas can be experimenting with the data within a day or two, while their engineers begin to build out their data pipelines. 

Q: How do you access OAG data in Direct?

For existing Snowflake customers, we share datasets directly with their Snowflake accounts. This means our data can sit alongside other datasets they are working with, whether that's internal or third-party. This can be highly valuable because users are able to blend data, saving them time in manual efforts, and allowing them to offer real-time market reaction opportunities. 

For those who are not Snowflake customers, we set them up with an account. Both types of users can use the Snowflake UI to query the data and then go on to build it into their data pipelines.  
When in Direct, customers can take advantage of the menu of integration options already built by Snowflake and their partners, including Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning tools and data visualisation platforms, like Tableau and PowerBI. 

We also put a small sample of our data into the Snowflake Marketplace for free, meaning organizations across the globe can try our data alongside other third-party sources for example weather, or demographic data. 

Q: What types of customers are moving towards Direct?

Direct is right for anyone who needs to upgrade their data access in line with in-house tech transformation, who is dealing with large quantities of data, or who needs to make better use of their time and resource. Customers looking to work with Direct seek a solution that feeds machine learning, provides updates at a higher frequency, or supports automated integration into existing platforms for large-scale analytics. We’ve seen adoption from leading airlines such as American Airlines and Air Canada, travel tech companies such as Hopper and consultancies like IBA.

We’ve received great feedback about turnaround time and the support triallists get from our product engineers. We work with the customers on the timing of the trial to make sure they have the right people available. They get a month's trial, which so far has proved ample. 

Hopper, an OTA that has been accessing our data in Direct to provide improved flight and hotel booking, said in their feedback, “OAG’s coverage confidence, transparency and uptime made them stand out, not to mention the support and technical documentation available.”

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Q: How does Direct enable data democratization?

Data democratization is about making data easier to integrate, better quality and more accessible. Having everything in one place, hosted in a cloud solution, means that more users internally can analyze and test the data prior to our external release. Direct fosters innovation within organizations by providing such access. Companies that traditionally worked in departmental silos, are now able to share and interrogate data across their entire organization. 

Q: How does OAG continue to innovate and evolve to meet changing customer needs and future demands?

Our customers are always at the forefront. Direct is a big step forward in terms of technology, but we have much more planned across all our next generation of products to ensure that progress and innovation continue. We have several major releases planned for this year.


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At OAG, our flight data and delivery solutions are always evolving, so, as we move into new territory with Flight Info Direct, keep an eye out for upcoming changes and additions.  If you're interested in Flight Info Direct, or wish to find out more about it and how it could help your business, get in touch with one of our specialists today